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Swapping the Studio Based Pedagogy for Online Learning Research Paper

Pages:6 (1926 words)



Topic:Online Education

Document Type:Research Paper


Why to Adopt Pedagogy Based on Digital Online Interactions with Students


With the arrival of the digital age has come a shift in the way information is pursued, transacted, shared, discussed, obtained, and processed. Students who have grown up in the digital age are digital natives and are more comfortable using digital technology than being without it. For design educators who are used to the studio-based pedagogy that has been in use for a century, shifting to embrace a digital-based pedagogy can seem like a transition that is too great of a leap for them to welcome. After all, the pedagogy of the studio-based design education has its own special uniqueness that cannot be replicated in a digitalized format. However, what design educators need to realize is that it is not about replication but rather it is about improving the pedagogy by way of innovation. The pedagogy of the past had its place, but today there are new features in education that should be leveraged (Fleischmann, 2013). These features have been embraced in the professional world as well and if design educators want to know how to best prepare their design students for the professional world they should be incorporating the methods that the professional world itself expects graduates to be skilled in (Justice, 2019). This paper will show the arguments for why design educators should adopt pedagogy based on digital online interactions with students and what evidence in the literature is most convincing regarding the viability of online versus face to face studio education.

Arguments for Revamping the Pedagogy

While the studio system has numerous benefits, such as an open format that allows for direct interaction between the teacher and students, there are also numerous limitations and challenges that the studio based design pedagogy must face. These include the fact that design students must learn under a pedagogy that obliges them to “cope with uncertainty, ambiguity and the unknown” (Sims & Shreeve, 2012, p. 57). Even though Vaughan et al. (2008) indicate that the pedagogy of ambiguity is intentional and part of the learning by experiencing process that design educators want students to embrace, the fact remains that many students are simply not prepared to deal with such a pedagogy. They are digital natives and are used to exploring in a digital environment. Interacting with others in a face to face environment with limited resources is not their idea of a learning experience (Souleles, 2015). Students need more than just the opportunity to explore and experience in a studio based pedagogy. As digital natives they have grown up relying on the affordability of information that they have access to to an unlimited degree via the Internet. Indeed, digital online interactions allow students to obtain feedback well beyond the limitations of the crit that they receive in a studio based system.

Another argument for shifting to a digital based pedagogy is that it is the direction in which most universities are heading. More and more students expect to be served with some kind of digital based pedagogical approach in their college experience (Mayadas, Bourne & Bacsich, 2009). With the trend being towards distance learning it also opens up the opportunity for students to overcome time and space barriers and receive an education in design via an online platform. By providing students with the opportunity to engage in digital online interactions it allows design educators to give more students more chances to learn design.

Incorporating digital online interaction into the design pedagogy would also allow for students to obtain feedback from peers outside the classroom.…

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…educators should be able to see the utility of the online interactions with students, and the function of this interaction has a place in the form of design education.

Fifthly, there are Vaughan et al. (2008) who show that today’s students are not as enthusiastic about a pedagogy of ambiguity as design teachers think they should be. Education has become very expensive and for students to pay a great deal of money just to be told that they have to essentially teach themselves is likely to be confusing and offensive to them. They could pay no money and teach themselves via an open source platform that is community-driven. So why do teachers think that pedagogy of ambiguity is really going to be that relevant for students today? Design educators no longer control the flow of design information the way they did a century ago, so they must face that reality and adapt to the current environment and the needs of the students. Vaughan et al. (2008) show that students want direction and guidance and some feel they do not get it from the teacher in the studio pedagogy, which is why the turn to online interactions, where there is more meaningful discussion about design.


In conclusion, there is plenty of evidence that suggests design educators need to adapt their pedagogy and embrace the digital online interactions approach to design education. The arguments from the research are sufficient to show that students are digital natives and want education that embraces their digital awareness and allows them to utilize digital resources for interaction purposes. Teachers can benefit from this approach as well and provide more guidance and direction and facilitate the process of feedback in turn. It is an approach that educators should look into embracing sooner rather…

Sample Source(s) Used


Fleischmann, K. (2013). Big Bang Technology: What's Next in Design Education, Radical Innovation or Incremental Change?. Journal of Learning Design, 6(3), 1-17.

Justice, L. (2019). The Future of Design Education. Design Management Review, 30(1), 33-37.

Mayadas, A. F., Bourne, J., & Bacsich, P. (2009). Online education today.  Science, 323(5910), 85-89.

Souleles, N. (2015). Elearning in art and design: the elephant in the room. In 9th International Technology, Education and Development Conference (pp. 6659-6665).

Vaughan, S., Austerlitz, N., Blythman, M., Grove-White, A., Jones, B. A., Jones, C. A.,... & Shreeve, A. (2008). Mind the gap: Expectations, ambiguity and pedagogy within art and design higher education. In The student experience in art and design higher education: Drivers for change (pp. 125-148). Jill Rogers Associates Limited.

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